Tesla Sues Former Disgruntled Employee For Sabotage And Espionage

Two days after Elon Musk accused an unknown employee of "extensive and damaging" sabotage, on Wednesday morning the company filed a lawsuit in Nevada against Martin Tripp, a Sparks, Nevada-based disgruntled former employee, for allegedly exporting gigabytes of confidential data.

While the car maker said it is only beginning to understand all of former process technician Martin Tripp's allegedly illegal activity, in the suit Tesla said that Tripp "has thus far admitted to writing software that hacked Tesla's manufacturing operating system ("MOS") and to transferring several gigabytes of Tesla data to outside entities."

The data supposedly also includes "dozens of confidential photographs and a video of Tesla's manufacturing systems." In addition to that, CNBC notes that Tesla alleges Tripp wrote computer code to periodically export Tesla's data to outside parties, who are so far "unknown."

According to Tesla, shortly after Tripp joined Tesla, he was identified as having job performance problems, and as being disruptive and combative with his colleagues. Then, on or about May 17, 2018, Tripp was assigned to a new role. Tripp expressed anger that he was reassigned. Tripp then allegedly retaliated against Tesla by stealing confidential and trade secret information and disclosing it to third parties, "and by making false statements intended to harm the company."

The situation came to a head on Thursday and Friday of last week, or June 14 and 15, 2018, when Tesla investigators interviewed Tripp regarding his misconduct. After Tripp initially stated that no misconduct had occurred, Tesla investigators confronted him with evidence to the contrary. At that point, Tripp admitted to writing software that hacked Tesla’s MOS and to transferring several gigabytes of confidential and proprietary Tesla data to entities outside the company. This included dozens of photographs and a video of Tesla’s manufacturing systems.

Here is the full background from the lawsuit:

Tripp joined Tesla in October 2017 at the Nevada Gigafactory as a process technician, a job which Tripp later complained was not a sufficiently senior role for him. As part of his job, Tripp had access to highly sensitive information relating to, among other things, certain facets of the manufacturing process for the company’s battery modules.

Before joining Tesla, and as a condition to his continuing employment, Tripp agreed not to use or disclose Tesla’s confidential and proprietary information except in connection with his work with Tesla. This obligation is memorialized in the Employee Proprietary Information and Inventions Agreement that Tripp signed electronically on October 6, 2017 (the “Proprietary Information Agreement”). In addition to his contractual obligations, Tripp owed a duty of undivided loyalty to Tesla under Nevada law and was legally required to act with good faith towards the company.

Within a few months of Tripp joining Tesla, his managers identified Tripp as having problems with job performance and at times being disruptive and combative with his colleagues. As a result of these and other issues, on or about May 17, 2018, Tripp was assigned to a new role. Tripp expressed anger that he was reassigned.

Thereafter, Tripp retaliated against Tesla by stealing confidential and trade secret information and disclosing it to third parties, and by making false statements intended to harm the company.

On June 14 and 15, 2018, Tesla investigators interviewed Tripp regarding his misconduct. After Tripp initially stated that no misconduct had occurred, Tesla investigators confronted him with evidence to the contrary. At that point, Tripp admitted to writing software that hacked Tesla’s MOS and to transferring several gigabytes of confidential and proprietary Tesla data to entities outside the company. This included dozens of photographs and a video of Tesla’s manufacturing systems.

During the interview, Tripp also admitted that he attempted to recruit additional sources inside the Gigafactory to share confidential Tesla data outside the company.

While its investigation is still in the early stages, Tesla has also discovered that Tripp authored hacking software and placed it onto the computer systems of three other individuals at the company so that confidential Tesla data could be persistently exported off its network from these other systems to unknown third parties.

Tripp also made false claims about the information he stole from Tesla. Tripp claimed that punctured battery cells had been used in some Model 3 customer vehicles even though the evidence clearly demonstrates that no punctured cells were ever used. Tripp also used the Tesla data that he exported to grossly overstate the true amount and value of “scrap” material that Tesla generated during the manufacturing process, and he falsely claimed that Tesla was delayed in bringing new manufacturing equipment online at the Gigafactory.

And the punchline:

Although Tesla’s investigation is ongoing, it has already suffered significant and continuing damages as a result of Tripp’s misconduct, which it seeks to recover through this action

In other words, Tesla now has a named and litigated scapegoat in case Q2 earnings happen to miss once again.

Full lawsuit below

Comments

Looney SloMoe Wed, 06/20/2018 - 12:14 Permalink

 

How can it be espionage? Musk The Inventor stole ALL of his “inventions”:

1.Tesla’s name

2.The Concept of an electric vehicle

3.Lithium Batteries

4.Auto-pilot

5.Spontenious combustion   ;-)

Looney

In reply to by SloMoe

gregga777 TBT or not TBT Wed, 06/20/2018 - 12:25 Permalink

OMFG our nations vital Tesla model 3 secrets have gotten out.

Allow flawed design to be stolen by adversaries so that it completely fucks them up when they copy evertythjng. I've seen this before when we allowed faked plans to be stolen by the Soviet Union. 

Or, Mr. Tripp could just be an actor hired to play a role so that Eloi Musky can have an excuse for why they still can't make 5,000 self-immolating autodafe cabinets per week. I think I'll go with the actor. 

In reply to by TBT or not TBT

glenlloyd MasterPo Wed, 06/20/2018 - 16:10 Permalink

If it was confidential data regarding the 'tent' factory there's really nothing all that confidential about it. Based on the videos they're not doing much in that tent anyway, just kinda lolligagging and hanging out.

In reply to by MasterPo

DCFusor TBT or not TBT Wed, 06/20/2018 - 12:37 Permalink

Well, they say the Chinese stole F-35 plans, that ought to bankrupt them trying to make a plane we know how to shoot down if they ever manage to make it fly in the first place.  Or just asphyxiate the pilot.

Then again, maybe if they actually did do it and go OCD on the thing, they'll make some working logistics software we can steal back, doing at least some of what we've utterly failed at, for us.  Cheaper than tossing those bucks at the MIC, perhaps.

You can go howevermany layers of n-think on these if it entertains you.

In reply to by TBT or not TBT

bonin006 City_Of_Champyinz Wed, 06/20/2018 - 14:01 Permalink

Could be because you need to get the cops to put down their coffee and donuts and actually do their job, to get a criminal investigation going.

A couple of years ago somebody(ies) snuck into the front office of my business when none of us were in that room, and stole an employees laptop and wallet. They (the thieves) went right to Target and charged something like $800 on the stolen credit card. We were able to find out from Target that they had video of the crooks using the card, but they wouldn't tell us anything else, except to call the police, so met a cop at Target. He saw the video and told us it was 3 Somali women, but he wouldn't let us see the video either. We filed a police report there at Target with the cop.

When my wife made some comment or question to me about following up with the police I restrained myself from telling her they were not going to do anything, as my cynicism tends to irritate her. I just asked her to follow up with the police. That way she was mad at them rather than me when she found out they were not doing anything.

In reply to by City_Of_Champyinz

not dead yet bonin006 Wed, 06/20/2018 - 16:48 Permalink

Nobodies going to get exited over a small business credit card especially when you're going to get your money back from the card company. If Somali's are like every immigrant group they will close ranks and the cops will be wasting their time and your tax money that will far exceed your 800 bucks. It may also seem fishy to the cops that someone can walk into your business and steal stuff off employees desks and never get seen. Too busy to put down your coffee and donuts to guard the front door?

Tesla on the other hand is large company with friends in high places claiming what could be damages in the millions and if the authorities were notified they would be on the spot whether the cops or the DA's office. If as Tesla claims they have done a thorough investigation their lawyers would first go to the DA who would charge and perp walk the guy to the slam and then post bail. The fact that Tesla has a filed a suit so quickly has the whole affair reeking of bullshit for PR. Or Tesla went to the DA and were told that they have nothing but hot air and no proof to prosecute. As far as the information Tesla claims was stolen it was minor league stuff that no company would care about let alone risk the bad PR which they know Musk and his followers would play to the hilt like they are now doing. Contrary to Musk and the media Tesla hasn't got anything worthwhile to steal. They have all they need to know by tearing down Tesla's, contrary to the true believers all companies no matter what business tear down and analyze their competitors products, junkers and laughing their ass off at putting a battery and electric motor in a 1980's car. In the company I worked for they ordered their competitors stuff straight from the company using their real name and had it delivered to our doorstep.

If anyone has seen a modern car assembly line in action Tesla's "tent" assembly line reeks of PR bullshit. The only thing they can do is assemble cars by hand, with highly skilled assemblers who need to install a variety of parts and systems with parts brought to them in totes by forklift. If the cars brought from the factory are just the body only there is no way they can fully assemble a car with the bare bones line that was installed. Or this could be a repair facility to correct flaws which for some reason they can't correct on the main line. If they really are assembling cars on that line the output will be exceptionally small and the costs to produce horrendous.

In reply to by bonin006

True Blue TBT or not TBT Wed, 06/20/2018 - 14:34 Permalink

More likely, this is the guy who released that 'confidential information' video of cars being 'manufactured' in a giant circus tent in the desert.

P.T. Burn 'em is at the 'finger pointing' and 'denial' stage. Soon 'It isn't my fault the company never made a dime in actual profits; it was all espionaged and sabotaged and stuff; where's my ambien and that red whine..."

Hey Elon... "Long burn coming."

In reply to by TBT or not TBT

jcaz Looney Wed, 06/20/2018 - 12:18 Permalink

Sue?  Why is this not a criminal case?

Who goes straight to civil court in two days?  Even the dumbest lawyer knows that this guy has no assets to attach.

"Here are your choices-  either be a fall guy for me, and I'll sue you for exactly what I hand you here,  or else you're laid off-  choose....."

Edit:  This "Lower bar to prosecute him in Civil Court"  is a facetious counter.  This is a binary matter- did he or did he not do it?   You don't temper prosecution BEFORE you go after him.   "Oh, he's only $100K guilty......"

Watch Civil court laugh Elon out the door-  "No crime?  No dime".

"Let's just offer him a deal before we offend him by charging him with a crime...."  Is this how California law works-  are you really this afraid of prosecuting criminals?  

Tesla knows that this is bullshit- if Elon had any balls and this wasn't a scam,  there are a half-dozen criminal charges to press, if anything actually happened.....

In reply to by Looney

tmosley Looney Wed, 06/20/2018 - 12:27 Permalink

If you open up a world class restaurant that quickly picks up three Michelin Stars, would you be a thief because you didn't invent the restaurant? 

Whenever I get angry at the stupidity of the commenters here, I have to remind myself that I am in a den of stupidity known as the peanut gallery. Not everyone is this stupid.

In reply to by Looney

not dead yet tmosley Wed, 06/20/2018 - 17:26 Permalink

Read the story Mr knowitall. He worked at the battery factory in Nevada. If he was able to access the autopilot you can bet Elon would be playing it to the hilt to combat the bad PR and the FED's would have this guy in the slam. Hard to set a fire in the paint shop in Cali from there. What was Tesla hiding when they refused to allow the fire department into the building? If the department was dispatched and there was a fire it would be standard practice, possibly the law, for the fire chief to deem the fire out and safe to resume production. Sounds like Musk made a few calls to get the fire dept to back off. Goes along with the recent firings and specifically mentioning that to receive severance they had to agree all their safety concerns were corrected by the company and they would be available to the company, a roundabout way to say testify in court or give a deposition, that it was so. Contrary to the pundits it is highly unusual for this to be put in a severance agreement. Another example of Musk and Tesla trying their hardest to keep the skeletons in the closet.

It was the media that made the cult of Musk which is the only thing that kept Tesla alive and their stock flying as Musk and his minions mismanaged the company. During Musk's tenure a decent management team would have cut out the bullshit and Tesla would have been profitable for years instead of constantly flirting with bankruptcy. Now that Musk has turned on the media many are no longer printing fluff, pro Tesla bullshit fiction, or lobbing softball questions at him. Now they are digging deeper and printing the facts, not pro Musk fiction.

In reply to by tmosley

Ozymango tmosley Wed, 06/20/2018 - 12:40 Permalink

If I opened up a world class restaurant that quickly picked up three Michelin Stars, and then offered my customers dishes that they had to put a deposit down for first, make them wait several months, then tell them that their meals will be late because we're now devoting our kitchen to making more expensive menu items -- I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of my potential customers thought my restaurant was a complete joke.

Whenever you get angry at the stupidity of the commenters here, imagine how they feel about you.

In reply to by tmosley

monad Looney Wed, 06/20/2018 - 19:31 Permalink

Call the cops in California? What fer? Maybe after the way the cops handled Nasim Aghdam he decided to skip getting shot at by a crackpot, bring a case in 2 weeks instead of 20 years and slowly flay the rat. If this is the case I sincerely hope there are many "outside parties", and that they are all high profile urban politicians, lawyers, academics and progtards. And MSM psychopaths.

In reply to by Looney